Sunday, October 30, 2005

 

Page 18, Nov/Dec Zymurgy

Recognize anyone?





Funny thing is that the article talks about how the clubs get the $$, yet in our last meeting - the check was STILL in the mail. Hmmmmmmmm...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

 

165...

...gallons. That's how much I've brewed so far this year. Fortunately that means I'll be coming in under my legal limit of 200 gallons this year, even if I brew a few more times (which I will). I have a rather large stockpile of beer in my basement so I might end up taking a break this winter and brewing some bigger (or more time consuming) ones... Ones that take a while to age. Maibock is definitely on the agenda. I **MUST** learn to brew some lagers... and figure out how to handle them without having to go purchase another damn refrigerator/freezer.

And before someone runs off and starts planning my intervention, here's a couple of reasons why I managed to get through that much beer in a year:

... So I get help making it disappear, and we're sitting on a good amount too.

Brew Like a Monk is an amazing read and reference for any of you out there looking to brew authentic (or even inauthentic) Belgian-style brews. Its packed with great info from both sides of the Atlantic (Belgium and America) and has many suprises I wasn't expecting - For example, fermentation temperature control for Belgians would be the exception to the rule - Many many places actually pitch 65-70 degrees and let their temps rise into the high 70s or mid 80s! In addition 15-20% sugar is pretty standard, with some using as much as 30%. And corn sugar (yes, that stuff you use for bottling) is a good substitution for clear candi sugar!

That book also had Lots of good info for me to use for my Ommegang clone or Abbey-style Dubbel - Speaking of which, I picked up 3 750mL bottles of Ommegang at State Line this weekend so I could reculture. We'll have to see how it goes - Worst thing that could happen is I get really ripped on some belgian-style goodness, even if I can't get the yeast revived and kicking again.

No brewing this weekend. I'll be bottling & kegging my 10 gallons of Belgian Wit tomorrow. Next weekend I'll either be brewing 5 gallons of Oak-Aged Vanilla Porter or 10 gallons of Black Honey Ale - My dad is running low again, so it would make a good Christmas gift. I hope that he actually gets a kegerator when he retires - I could keep him in good beer pretty easily.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

 

Sweet Peat

10 gallons of peated scottish, to be more specific. My peated scottish smelled heavenly thru the mash, boil, and going into the fermenter. I am actually concerned that I should have used a full pound of the peated malt rather than 8oz. I guess I can chalk this batch up as experience if the peat mellows and disappears - I still have 1.5 lbs left, so I'll have to brew some superpeat scottish or something.... maybe a peated porter... mwaa haa ha haa.

I employed 2 time saving gadgets this brew, and managed to get it done (Heating mash water to pitching) in 5 1/2 hours - My O2 setup totally cut out an hour and a half of waiting for the wort to oxygenate - Anyone need an aquarium pump? In addition I've used my hose H2O filter instead of the water filter on our kitchen sink. It'll dechlorinate and purify water at a rate of about 5 gallons a minute. Pretty sweet.



I got my nut brown ale on tap - the Burton Ale yeast is still somewhat apparent, but its a good brew. I could drink it all night and keep my head... well, for a couple hours anyways.

So now I've got 25 gallons in fermenters - 10 gallons of wit (5 kegged, 5 bottled this weekend) 5 gallons of Pumpkin Ale (for bottling). I suspect that I'll have two more kegs coming available here soon when the Native Rage and Oak Aged Vanilla Porter kick. Speaking of which, I brought a six pack of the Native Rage to a coworker and he LOVED it. He and his wife are hopheads, and the absolutely love it to death... so I'll have to bring some to the next meeting and get folks' opinions. Maybe I should have entered it in the homebrew contest... Oh right. No one came or participated but me, Jeff and Scott. would have been a waste.

"Brew Like a Monk" rules. That book is really well written, interesting, and going to influence the next belgian style brew I do. Still haven't cracked the spine on Brown Ales or Bock, but I'm looking forward to those as well.

Monday, October 24, 2005

 

The littlest competition in DE

Our meeting on Friday was very intimate, as was the competition. 6 people attended - Me, my wife Donna, Dave, Scott Beiber,Hank, and our host Jeff. There were 7 entries, 5 of which were from me:

(A) = Ale category, (O) = Other. We had no (L)ager entries.

Amusingly Scott thought he was entering his British Pale Ale, which seemed odd considering the apparent banana esters the ale was throwing off... he realized it was his Belgian instead after the competiton sheets had already been submited. DO'H!

I could kick myself for not knowing the level of turnout in advance - Dave had several excellent Imperial Stouts and an IPA that could also have been submitted, but since we were expecting more folks and he only brought one 22oz bottle a piece, they were all gone before the competition even began. Dave, your stuff should have been in there - and it probably would have won. Next time we have a competition we will make sure the rules are absolutely clear, it is well advertized and promoted prior to the event, AND that we have sufficient pre-competition suds to keep people's throats from drying out!!! I brought a cooler full of beer, but nothing to drink prior to the competition! DO'H! DO'H!.

We all had fun despite the low turnout, and I think everyone enjoyed a good sampling of beer. Hank promises to tally the results for the next meeting.

Friday, October 21, 2005

 

BROADCAST BREWS

Former National Beer Wholesalers President David Rehr will be the National Association Of Broadcasters next President and C-E-O. To read more click here.

Jane Hautanen (Jane Doe)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

 

Bottles... Babysitter... BOOYAA!!!!!

Tonight my wife and I did some serious counter-pressure filling. 5 six packs... took about 30 mintues. We didn't bother bottling the Pumpkin Ale since my intention is to bottle the batch I just brewed this past weekend... We'll have plenty of pumpkin madness to hand out to folks.

My wife and I decided on the entrants... and honestly several of them changed. I'll be submitting 3 beers for myself, and 2 for Brian Moore, as I mentioned before. I'll have 2 ales and one "Other", while Brian's are all Ales. Having tasted both of his entries... I'm actually scared for my submittals. He brews one mean beer. Next year I hope to have something for the Lager category...

We managed to get a babysitter lined up for tomorrow night, so Donna will be coming with me!!! I am so incredibly excited - I think she's really going to enjoy herself hanging with folks (Esp. since she isn't responsible for entertaining this time around).

Tomorrow is the night... ARE YOU ALL READY???

* Happy Dance *

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

 

Brewpub for Sale

BREWPUB FOR SALE! Get Fresh with Us! is the motto for this beautifully, newly rennovated, historic brewpub in Montrose, Colorado. Wildlife theme complete with a full bar and big screen TV's. Located on Main Street in the historic area of town. Everything is prepared fresh...including the beer! Your opportunity to own the building and the restaurant business including all of the equipment and licenses. 3125 square feet, seats 120, with ample public parking in the back of the building. Open 7 days a weeks. Priced to sell at $659,000 for the building & business and only $549,000 for the building. MUST SELL...will entertain serious offers. www.blackcanyonbrewery.com Located at 512 E. Main Street, Montrose, CO. 81401. Contact kccolorealtor@aol.com or call Kathy Coons at 1-800-562-6773.

Monday, October 17, 2005

 

Slacking

OK, so I didn't get my Wit racked to secondaries - I will do that tonight. I also scaled back my amazon order by 1/2, so I'll only be getting 2 beer style books and "Brew Like A Monk". As my wife so smartly pointed out - I need to leave some things for folks to buy me for X-mas. Not like I ever could run out of things, but those are quick & easy ones so... I'll be getting Bock & Brown Ale.

I also didn't counter-pressure fill my Native Rage or my Oak-Aged Vanilla Porter. I need to do that soon as well... particularly if they are going to be ready for this Friday. We are trying to switch our baby sitter's night from Thursday to Friday so Donna can also come - I would love it if she did.

My pumpkin ale was done fermenting last night. Pitching 2 packets of dry yeast really cuts down on the fermentation time... It ran a little hot (around 74 degrees), but with all the cinnamon and other flavors in there I suspect the esters will probably be very masked. I thought of cooling it down, but the sloth of the weekend overtook me. I will probably need to rack it to a secondary in a couple days.

I also got a 3 quart starter of Wyeast 1728 (Scottish) going in preparation for this weekend's 10 gallons of Peated Scottish. I am really getting excited about this brew - hope it turns out good.

Why the overwhelming sloth? Well, we got a kord of wood delivered Saturday (1/2 oak, 1/2 cherry) and after moving and stacking for 2 hours, I was pretty well spent.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

 

Glug glug glug...

...goes the airlock on my latest Pumpkin beer. It was a hellish brew day, but as of 4pm when I pitched my mystery Brewferm yeast, it is over. I doubled the pumpkin as I previously mentioned I would, which made for a very concrete-like mash. It stuck. HARD. And when it did, all kinds of bad stuff started happening, like grain debris pulling thru the false bottom and into the kettle, etc... And in the process of getting it unstuck my mash temp dropped from 166 down to around 149.... which again made for even more problems. So, to make a long story short... I managed to get the damn thing sparged with marginal efficiency (like ~70%). My OG was a tad lower than I wanted, but I won't whine too much.

Tomorrow I hope to get my Wit transferred to secondaries and get my current brews counter-pressure bottled so I can take some Oak-Aged Vanilla Porter and Native Rage with me to Friday's meeting ** cough cough** competition ** cough cough **. Actually, I don't expect to walk out of that with anything more than I went in, and will probably drop a half case of beer in the process... but hey... Fun, right? I'm the new kid on the block in our homebrew club, and there are lots of more experienced, seasoned homebrewers that are going to most likely wax the floor with my brews...

Next weekend is most likely my 10 gallons of Peated scottish. Hope I added enough peat - I will be disappointed if you can't tell in the final product. After that I've got like 3 different ones I could do (5 gallons)... Another round of the oak-aged vanilla, a "homegrown" pale using my homegrown Nugget and Cascade hops, or an abbey-style dubbel - not sure what I'm in the mood for just yet, but I'm thinking the belgian or the oak-aged would probably be best - get ready for winter and all that stuff.

I have a ridiculous number of brew books in our next amazon order - 5 of the classic beer style books (Bock, Octoberfest, Brown Ale, Wheat, and Belgian) as well as "Brew Like A Monk". I am strongly considering starting to brew cold-fermented beers this winter, namely a Maibock and a Winterfest - I've been doing the Ale thing for a year and a half now, and I really want to start challenging myself again - And lagering will definitely do that.

Man, I'm thirsty - time to go drink some of the Pumpkin Ale I've got on tap...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

 

Living la vida cerveza...

Well, the Kennett Square Microbrew Festival, while wet, was very fun and we really enjoyed it. After we left and checked into our hotel, we went to McKenzie's up on 202, which I was regrettably unimpressed with. They had a very good stout and good octoberfest, but the rest were pretty unremarkable. After all the great things I had heard, it was a suprise. After that we went to see Serenity which was AMAZING. Great flick... hope Joss Whedon gets the green light from Universal to do another one.

Last night I kegged 10 gallons of Nut Brown Ale, and tonight I de-labeled 2 1/2 cases of bottles. After looking at my inventory of bottles and realizing how much room I've got between that and vacant kegs - I don't need to slow down my brewing at all. Woot!!!

So this weekend I'll try to squeeze in another batch Pumpkin Ale, and after that is the 10 gallons of Peated Scottish... I'm still trying to come up with a name for it.

Next Friday is the Homebrew Competition at the FSB meeting @ Jeff Ramberg's house. Everyone ready?

Friday, October 07, 2005

 

YAY! Weekend...

This weekend is the Kennett Square Microbrew Festival, and I can hardly contain my excitement. My wife and I will be going and meeting up with several other folks from the area. We'll probably chill out at one of Kennett's many good restaurants for dinner after, then head over to Route 202 for an evening away from our children, more beer at John Harvard's / McKenzie's, and probably the movie "Serenity". I've been waiting over a year for that film to come out.

This morning I found that one of my Wit carboys had a blowout. The airlock was sealed shut with yeast, and when I removed the top cap, the internal carboy pressure shot the inner lock into the air... Foam and yeast everywhere - it was spectacular. Needless to say, I had to scramble to get my BBBOT sanitized and in the carboy as well as clean up the mess before heading off to work. Hopefully my meticulous cleaning will prevent any adverse effect from that minor crisis. The second carboy is still sitting there chugging along without any danger of blowing out... but I also used 3-4 drops of anti-foaming agent, so that is to be expected. My little experiment definitely proved the value of using the anti-foam drops.

Anyone else out there getting excited about this upcoming meeting / homebrew competition? I am. Still haven't decided how many entries I'll make, but I have plenty of candidates. I think I will even enter 2 beers for Brian Moore, who hasn't managed to make it by for a meeting yet. I think I will definately enter my oatmeal stout, amarillo pale ale, black honey ale, and oak-aged vanilla porter... And I am still debating about the Native Rage India Red Ale, Abbey Tripel, and Oak-aged Scottish. At 3 bottles a piece, bringing 4 of them is already 1/2 case of beer - Which is why I am thinking that maybe I enter 4 max. At what point does it become "too much"?

Sadly, I won't be entering any of the following since they are still sitting warm in kegs, and there is no way I'll finish one of my current "cold" kegs by then:

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

 

The Wit is Brewed...

10 gallons sitting in carboys below, aerated, pitched, and awaiting fermentation.

This batch has definitely underscored the need for me to start using pure oxygen instead of my aquarium pump and aeration stone. Sorry, but waiting around for 1.5 hours to pitch into two carboys (45 min each) SUCKS BIG MONKEY BUTT.

So I'll be going the el-cheepo route initially and getting the little knob that will let me use disposable O2 bottles. $24 for the regulator, I've already got the stone/tubing, and then $7/bottle.

And it will save me 94 minutes on brew days like today.

I think it is nearly a necessity for 10 gallon batches.

Monday, October 03, 2005

 

Smart Beer Mats for Faster Refills

This CNN article I found to be somewhat amusing and cool. I would love to get these things into Stewart's and Iron Hill so refills came a little faster...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

 

All-new brews

Well, my pumpkin went on tap this weekend as previously predicted... and I'm going to take another crack at it. Its not that my current pumpkin ale is bad or anything - but I can do alot better. I'm going to double the pumpkin,
use some flaked oats and flaked barley for extra body and creaminess, mash at a higher temp, take out the honey and use molassas instead, totally drop the carmelized brown sugar, and put a cinnamon stick in the secondary... And see how radically different the second one comes out.

The pumpkin ale I have right now is a little lacking in the body department, but has some pumpkin flavor and plenty of spices. The honey very obviously just added fermentables and little else... as did the brown sugar. I was really hoping for more of a flavor contribution from the brown sugar. I either used too little... or should have added it late in the boil. Not sure.

The "Native Rage" appears to have toked on the peace pipe a few too many times in the past 4 months since I brewed it... the initial "rip your face off" hoppiness has mellowed significantly and turned into something really nice to drink. Not complaining at all... Just suprised. I obviously can brew MUCH more hoppy things than Native Rage and not scalp my taste buds.... or perhaps I'm turning into a hophead... *shudder*.

The Oak Aged Vanilla Porter is wonderful again... but not quite as good as the first time. Different oak chips and going all-grain, I'm going to have to tweak it some next time. I think all the dark grains reacted different from mashing than steeping... its a little more edgy and less smooth than last time. Some flaked barley should smooth it out some, as would backing off on the black roasted barley.

The vanilla character is also sorely lacking in this batch... I am not sure if the beans I got were less fresh than last time around or something (both batches used ones from the Newark Coop off Main Street), but I just don't sense it. Next time I'll order some bourbon vanilla beans from MoreBeer.com.

Got 3 good beers on tap though... very happy. So now I've got a new batch or two I need to work on in the coming weeks in addition to the those I already had planned. My 10 gallons of Belgian Wit got delayed until Tuesday evening due to a shift in my weekend plans (and a yeast starter that wasn't ready yet), but hey - it'll happen.